Cinco de Mayo is here! But before you and your friends put on sombreros and serapes (you know, those “Mexican ponchos”), you’ll want to rethink that stereotypical costume… and possibly that last tequila shot once you read our quick and easy guide explaining Cinco de Mayo traditions, history, and culture.
Celebrate, Don’t Appropriate
Many frats and sororities across the U.S. are the main culprits of turning this Mexican memorial date into an offensive night of wild drinking and insensitive outfits, whether intentional or not. A word of advice: the second you reduce Mexican history into the overly specific theme of “bad hombres,” drug dealers, gang members, or lazy workers, you’re not so much celebrating Mexican culture and its diversity (just read this traveller’s adventure in Mexico) as you are ridiculing and simplifying an entire population.
“Cindo de Drinko”: Cinco de Mayo Traditions
But don’t pack up your party favours yet! You can have your cake and eat it too, or should I say, you can still have your mojito and drink it too. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a rager for Cinco de Mayo, so here are a few tips on how to do so without offending an entire culture.
- Don’t wear offensive costumes! Instead wear your regular clothes, because guess what? Mexican people wear jeans and hoodies too, and sometimes they even wear socks with sandals (“ay caramba!”)
- Do me a favour and buy these party favours. Support your local Mexican-owned businesses and stick to the traditional papel picado (colorful tissue paper cut into decorative patterns), Mexican flags, festive paper flowers, and for the kids, smash-worthy piñatas.
- You can never go wrong with Mexican food. Don’t be afraid to make traditional Mexican dishes whether it’s something simple as tacos and Spanish rice or something a bit more complicated like tamales and red mole.
Cinco de Mayo History and Culture
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, despite popular belief. It actually commemorates the victorious Battle of Puebla in 1862 against the invading forces of the French army and its leader Napoleon III. France sent its troops to occupy the town of Puebla when Mexico defaulted on its payments to France and other European countries. The French occupation ultimately failed when Mexico’s most cherished president Benito Juarez rallied its troops and fought off the foreign invaders.
Cinco de Mayo Fun Facts
Now every year Americans commemorate Cinco de Mayo with nachos and burritos, but thanks to this article you can also impress your friends at the party with these true facts about Cinco de Mayo.
- Mexico’s “army” – a ragtag group of 4,000 – had defeated France’s well-equipped and highly trained troop of 6,000.
- An estimated 81 million avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo… and that’s just in California!
- The biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration is held in Los Angeles, California where an estimated 600,000 people attend “La Fiesta Broadway”
- Cinco de Mayo is also widely celebrated in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and the island country of Malta (below Italy).
For a foodie like me, Cinco de Mayo is less about shots of Patron and more about savoring elotes con mayonesa, chiles rellenos. and all that yummy guac.
How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?